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Awesome: 28.13%
Worth A Look: 18.75%
Just Average: 12.5%
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2 reviews, 20 user ratings

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by Robert Flaxman

"Citizen Kane. Casablanca. Breakin'."
1 stars

I was born in 1982 and so lived a significant, though only marginally aware, chunk of my life in the 1980s. Because I was still in elementary school when the 80s as a style pretty much went out of vogue, though, I never formulated an attachment to the 80s in any pop-cultural sense, nor was I really exposed to them in any significant way. So it’s really shocking to see a movie like Breakin’ and think, “My God – at a point in my lifetime, most or all of the stuff in this movie was considered awesome.”

Now, before I go any further, I’m going to be fair – some of the dance moves in Breakin’ are kind of cool. The character Turbo (played by actual breakdancer Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers) has some scenes where he practically seems to be floating on air as he moves across the floor, and a couple dancers can be seen spinning around as they support their entire body weight with their arms on the ground. I can’t even imagine having that kind of physical strength or control. It’s really very impressive.

That said, it’s not the sort of thing around which I would build an entire movie. A Slinky going down the stairs is kind of cool too, but if you made me watch 90 minutes of Slinkies descending staircases, intercut with scenes in which the Slinkies complain how they aren’t getting enough respect from polite society, I think I’d want to kill myself in pretty short order.

It’s not just that Breakin’ builds its entire film around a handful of dance sequences in even more egregious fashion than Singin’ in the Rain did (and I hope that’s the only time those titles ever appear in the same sentence). It’s that the rest of the film is so bad, so singularly awful, that any hope the dancing might have had to carry the movie through its rough patches is obliterated in a hail of unintentional comedy.

Here’s your basic plot. Kelly (Lucinda Dickey) is a classically-trained dancer who has a falling out with a snooty teacher after he attempts to seduce her. Her friend Adam introduces her to the world of street breakdancing through his friends Orlando and Tony, or as they’re known on the street, Ozone (Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones) and Turbo. See if you can figure out where it goes from here. Kelly is skeptical at first, but soon comes to believe that breakdancing is “it”, and convinces her agent, James (a hilariously-permed Christopher McDonald in one of his earliest roles), to get them a big audition. Ozone thinks they’ll never be accepted, and the snooty teacher tries to sabotage everything, but, shock of shocks, the breakdancers end up convincing everyone – even the haughty judge with the British accent and muttonchop sideburns! – that breakdancing is just as respectable as jazz dancing. And a good thing too.

Needless to say, if that were any more paint-by-numbers, the DVD would come with a palette. Being predictable isn’t really Breakin’’s problem, though. First of all, it’s got a major continuity error – the big audition at the end is first described as a dance contest, then later is revealed to be an audition for a show, and then apparently it’s back to some sort of contest, because when the breakdancers “win”, the show ends up being built around them.

Second, it’s laughably dated. Forget that breakdancing itself hasn’t been considered anything but a relic since about 1986; the fashions on display are simply unfathomable. Some of the worst hair you’ve ever seen and flat-out garish clothing, right down to embarrassing touches like painter’s caps and giant belts, are all over the place. I’ve seen plenty of other movies from the 80s – yeah, the clothing wasn’t great in any of them either, but it was never even close to this bad. Am I nitpicking? Maybe. But when something is this hideous, it just can’t be ignored.

The same goes for the acting. It was obvious that the film was either going to star actual dancers or it was going to feature obvious body doubles for the dancing sequences, à la Flashdance and Footloose. Breakin’ actually manages to have the worst of both worlds. Most of its dancing is clearly done by the stars, but it actually uses some extreme close-ups on feet and such during certain parts, obviating the need to have hired dancers for the roles. This wouldn’t matter so much if the acting were at least passable, but honestly, I cannot ever have seen worse acting in a theatrical release. McDonald excepted, every single main character is a dancer first and an actor second, and it really couldn’t be more obvious. Wooden delivery, “emotional” lines that were probably practiced in front of a mirror for hours… Breakin’ has it all. My expectations going in allowed for a pretty high level of bad acting, and they were still exceeded.

So is there really any reason to watch Breakin’? Probably not. Its most lasting contribution to pop culture is as a hilarious – unintentionally so – monument to 80s kitsch. There is one truly remarkable thing about it, though – it’s 80 minutes long and yet, somehow, it took three people to write the screenplay.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5192&reviewer=385
originally posted: 03/28/05 21:29:15
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User Comments

12/28/17 morris campbell fun but dated now 3 stars
2/10/17 Louise It's fun and of the time. Breakdancing still exists anyway. Check out 'Street Dance'. 4 stars
11/07/12 JazzyJeff Bad review. It's okay to dislike the movie but no need for offensive language. 4 stars
4/24/09 Mike You're a fool David. 4 stars
11/01/08 Aaron This reviewer must of gotten beat up by a breaker, or you've must of gotten SERVED!! 4 stars
10/23/06 Carlos Maria Linardi i think that's very good films 5 stars
11/27/05 Sean Dancy Story so real, creative, and touching after 21 years it's like seeing it for the 1st time 4 stars
9/14/05 melissa the movie was great and so was shabba doo that man is soooooo hot 5 stars
6/15/05 Jeff Anderson A CANNON relic from the 80's & lots of fun. Turbo's broom dance was pure genius! 5 stars
6/08/05 John Joseph This Movie has dancers who can sorta act, not actors who can sorta dance! Look at Raves! 5 stars
4/20/05 Chris Stephens Break dancing at it's best 3 stars
4/18/05 Al Guy Cheesy and embarassing . . . but fun! 4 stars
4/12/05 spooger widely considered retarded in the 80's too 1 stars
4/08/05 Tanya Grays it was okay for the 80's 3 stars
5/02/04 Matthew The 1st break dance movie, COOL! 5 stars
3/01/04 blue The acting is aweful but Turbo's broom dance is fuckin awesome! 5 stars
2/14/02 Brian Better that you'd think. 5 stars
1/22/02 Andrew Carden OK Movie, but If You're Looking To Boogie and Get Down, See Part 2. 3 stars
9/07/01 Lars The Turbo broom dance is such a classic, better than than "Singin in the Rain" 5 stars
8/31/01 Butterbean Classic!!! Yes it's cheezy and the acting is terrible,but fuck you..it's the best! 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1984 (PG)



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